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Grass Fed Beef Shank Marrow Bones

marrowbones

The fat found in bone marrow is one of the most nutrient and calorically rich sources of food available on the planet. The marrow, abundantly found in the shank bone, has a savory and full bodied taste that can often be referred to as “meat butter” which makes sense when you taste how it melts in your mouth. This high fatty food is many times overlooked or disregarded, but truth is it’s easily digestible and packed with healthy fats and vitamins that shouldn’t be ignored. Personally, I love the taste.

  • To ensure the fat is of the best quality I look for shank bones that are from 100% grass fed cows. If that is difficult, try for organic.
  • Two sources that I have gotten from are whole foods and uswellnessmeats. Even if the shank bones are not on display ask the butcher if there are leftovers in the back.
  • The center cut of the shank holds the most marrow. If you have a butcher cut the bones for you, ask for them trimmed approx. 3 inches in length. The smaller length increases surface area to the water and helps release more nutrients into the broth.

To prepare

It is popular to roast or boil the marrow bones.

Roast ~3in bones in the oven at 400° F for about 20 minutes or until the marrow is fully cooked through. Browning the bones first will help improve the flavor of a bone broth, which I have yet to try.

You can also just choose to boil them in a large soup pot which will provide bone broth for a week. The meat, fat, bone and cartilage help to make a rich gelatinous broth.

Boil the bones till the marrow is cooked through which takes about 10-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your bones) I scoop it out to enjoy and save the rest for later.

You can store the rest of the marrow in the refrigerator; just reheat in some broth when you’re ready to eat.

Soup Tips

  • When making the soup I like to incorporate a shank bone with the meat still on it which adds even more flavor to the broth.
  • Many of the benefits come from the fats, so don’t toss the fats away, consume it as well.
  • ESSENTIAL! Be sure to add in 1 tbsp ACV as it creates an acidic environment that helps draw minerals out of the bones.
  • You can simmer the bones for a minimum of 24 hours, or up to 48. TIP: The longer a bone broth cooks, the more nutritious and mineral-dense it will become.
  • Remove the foamy layer that occasionally forms at the top of the pot while simmering. This gook isn’t of any benefit.
  • I take the meat out of the soup earlier so it doesn’t overcook. The shank meat is done when you can easily pull it apart with a fork, but is still a little pink in the very middle.
  • When done, let the broth cool, remove bones and strain. Reheat to add and cook vegetables such as celery, carrot, onion and parsley. Don’t overdue it on the veggies as that can lead to a bitter finished product.
  • Store in glass mason jars which keeps it fresher than plastic.

Healing abilities

  • Many soup bones contain cartilage, which converts to gelatin with a rich source of amino acids like glycine that enhances detoxification. Cartilage is also a source of chondroitin sulfate which helps heal arthritic joints.
  • Bones are a rich source of minerals. Not just calcium, but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulfur which are essential to health.

Here is a partial listing of conditions that broth benefits:
Aging skin, allergies, anemia, anxiety, asthma, atherosclerosis, attention deficit, poor digestion, brittle nails, Celiac Disease, colic, constipation, dental degeneration, depression, diabetes, diarrhea, fatigue, food sensitivities, fractures, gastritis, heart conditions, high cholesterol, hyperactivity, high blood pressure, hypoglycemia, low immunity, inflammation, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, insomnia, reflux, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, memory loss, muscle cramps or spasms, muscle wasting, osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, seizures, weight loss due to illness, wound healing, and more!

If at the end of all this you still don’t find yourself wanting to eat beef marrow, the least you can do is feed it to the dog.

 

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  • Chowstalker December 3, 2012, 3:19 pm

    So much valuable information here – thanks so much for sharing this with us!!

    Reply
  • Kayla December 5, 2012, 12:35 am

    Thank you for posting! I’m about to make my own bone broth for the first time and was wondering about the marrow. Thanks again! :) BTW do you think its a bad idea to eat the marrow if we aren’t sure where our cows came from? I’m currently living in Korea so I have a hard time finding organic- I just get whats available… of unknown origins.. :)

    Reply
    • lauren michelle December 5, 2012, 8:19 am

      Kayla- I’m glad you’re going to try it! It’s a difficult question to answer but I’ll give you my opinion. Non organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not good. For example one farm I buy from is not certified organic but follows organic farming practices and raises grass fed meats. Sometimes organic sources feed their cows grains, which are not necessarily the best diet for cows. The source could have potentially been given antibiotics, hormones, etc. Marrow is not a food you have all the time so if you don’t know the source I think tasting it is fine as long as you don’t have a compromised immune system and you feel comfortable not knowing. I feel like there are still nutritional benefits to the marrow regardless.

      Reply
  • Laura January 7, 2013, 2:49 pm

    I’m a little confused. Should I roast the marrow bones, then make the broth with them, then discard the marrow and the bones? Or can I eat the marrow after it has been used to make the broth? Sorry, I just want to clarify. I have the bones all ready to go!

    Reply
    • lauren michelle January 7, 2013, 3:05 pm

      Laura- Most of the time I don’t bother roasting, but just throw the marrow bones into the soup pot, bring it to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer. After about 15 minutes the marrow would be cooked through in the water and I remove the bones, scoop out the marrow, and throw the bones back in to boil for many hours. If I have a lot of marrow I save it in the fridge which can be added to warm broth at a later time. If you decide to roast the bones, I would probably remove the cooked marrow and then put the bones in the broth to cook for a day or two. Don’t forget ACV to help leach the minerals from the bone. After the soup is done I discard the bones. It’s all up to you whether you roast or just boil. Hope that helps, good luck!

      Reply
  • Angela February 27, 2013, 12:14 am

    I grow up eating this soup, but:), when the broth is done we add all vegetables you mention above and home made noodles in it. Before we serve this delicious soup, we eat the marrow on a slice of toast with salt and pepper . The meat from bones we eat just the way it is, with mash potatoes and tomatoes souse home made.

    Reply
    • lauren michelle February 27, 2013, 8:09 am

      That sounds delicious, thanks for sharing! I would think the marrow tastes just as good as butter on toast …or even maybe even better :) I should try the shank meat with tomato sauce sometime.

      Reply
  • Tammy May 27, 2013, 9:33 pm

    What is ACV?

    Reply
    • lauren michelle June 25, 2013, 4:19 pm

      Apple Cider Vinegar. I use Braggs brand because it is organic and has the “mother”.

      Reply
  • Zuzana June 25, 2013, 2:05 pm

    What is ACV?

    Reply
  • Ro July 5, 2013, 10:23 am

    How many beef marrow bones for a weeks supply of broth?

    Reply
    • lauren michelle July 5, 2013, 1:10 pm

      About 6 cut marrow bones and I usually add in a shin of beef with a marrow bone in the center. A little bit of meat adds extra flavor. I keep the meat in until it’s cooked and take it out while I continue to cook the bones for about 2 days.

      Reply
      • Ro July 6, 2013, 11:47 am

        Lauren, three. more questions, please:
        1. Because the broth needs to cook for so long, as a natural gas saver, could the broth be made in a crock pot?
        2. Whether stock pot on a stove or crock pot, for six marrow bones, how much water is needed (taking evaporation into consideration)?
        3. To derive the many health benefits you state, what would be the daily “dosage” of broth one would drink, i.e., 1/4 , 1/2 or cup?

  • lauren michelle July 6, 2013, 2:23 pm

    Ro,
    1. I assume you could transfer it to a crock pot after you do the boiling part. It’s a little extra work and I’m not sure how big the crock pot is and if it will fit well. After the boiling I leave it on the stove at the lowest heat to simmer. It’s up to you how long to cook it for. It can be anywhere from 8 to 48 hours.
    2. I usually start with about 1/2 the large pot filled. I don’t have an exact measurement and if I see a lot evaporating and the broth is rich I add in a little extra water. Just keep the lid on while simmering. I know that the finished stock usually makes me about 3 quarts of soup when I’m finished.
    3. The minerals and vitamins in the broth are very beneficial. I would drink a cup or more a day. It’s no exact science. It’s just a wonderful thing to add into your diet.

    Reply
  • Suellen August 12, 2013, 3:51 pm

    Thanks sooo much !!! I am trying to cook the most nutritious meals for my best friend who is going through chemo….. And how to
    Get the marrow from beef shank was needed so I could make the good tasting broth along with the nutritious !!! Also glad to know about tha ACV . Could u explain the chemical process (scientific process ) to me . Thanks
    Namaste

    Reply
    • lauren michelle August 12, 2013, 8:53 pm

      Suellen,
      That is a wonderful thing to do for your friend! I cannot tell you in scientific terms exactly how it happens, but I just know that when you add an acidic medium to your stock it helps leach the minerals. That’s also why when your body is off balance and too acidic in places where it shouldn’t be it causes an unhealthy environment that causes minerals to leach from your own bones in an attempt to alkalize (such as with osteoporosis). I hope you both enjoy it. I also always save bones from chicken legs or a carcass and make a soup out of them. I like to alternate between chicken and beef stocks.

      Reply
  • Suzanna September 26, 2013, 1:54 pm

    Hi Lauren, I am simmering a broth of 3″ lamb shanks and in the middle of one of them is oozing out some whitish curds looking substance. The other ones look dark like normal marrow. I put some on my finger and it mushes and melts into a creamy fat like substance. Should I discard this or did we find some extra manna :)

    Reply
    • lauren michelle September 26, 2013, 2:31 pm

      Hi Suzanna, I never tried lamb shanks before but I could imagine it’ll taste delicious. When I first boil the bones there is a white grayish foam that rises to the top and that’s to be discarded. If you are talking about actual marrow that is pink and once cooks it’ll turn white and more opaque in color then that can be eaten. I am not sure which one you are talking about but the foamy stuffy in the beginning should be skimmed off.

      Reply
  • judy November 11, 2013, 11:18 am

    Thanks for the steps on how to make bone broth!! I’m new at this and trying for the first time. You have some great advice and I appreciate the info you added about what the bone broth helps heal :) It sounds like marrow bones are more nutritious than soup bones ?

    Reply
    • lauren michelle November 11, 2013, 11:57 am

      Judy- I’m glad your trying it! Soup bones are very nutritious but marrow is just tasty. Marrow is a great nutritious fat but even without you’d get a nutritious soup. I hope you enjoy your first pot :)

      Reply
  • Katy Flick December 1, 2013, 10:18 pm

    There are no sources of grass fed or organic bones that I have found here in Chicago. Not even at Whole Foods. When I asked the butcher they told me they discarded them and why. So when I read that making bone broth is cheap I have to disagree since my only source is purchasing these bones online (they are not cheap) unless I go for standard USDA bones in the meat case at any of the stores around.

    Reply
    • lauren michelle December 1, 2013, 10:30 pm

      Hi Katy, do you think next time you can ask the butcher at whole foods to not discard the bones? They should come in weekly and maybe put in a request. Other than that it may be expensive if you want a specific source. Hope it works out -Lauren

      Reply
      • Katy Flick December 2, 2013, 9:29 am

        I did, it’s not allowed because they dry the carcass. I don’t understand what that means. Perhaps they only use them for dog bones.

      • lauren michelle December 2, 2013, 10:44 am

        The whole foods near me always offers them, but every store must do it differently. The shank usually has a marrow bone, and the meat gives a rich flavor. But you can make bone broth soups from anything, leftover turkey or chicken carcasses. I do that when the beef bones aren’t available.

    • Ady Shapiro May 3, 2014, 5:41 pm

      Katy…I buy my grass fed beef from Q 7 Ranch in Marengo . They will deliver . You can call them or order on their website

      Reply
  • Jim December 5, 2013, 7:43 am

    Hi Lauren
    We ahve always let the bone both cool and then chip away the fat or solids that have solidifed at the top. Is that the foam you say should be removed?

    Love the website,

    Jim and Maureen

    Reply
    • lauren michelle December 5, 2013, 8:51 am

      Thank you Jim and Maureen. The fat and solids at the top is different from the foam. In the beginning of boiling the bones, a grayish foam will collect on the top. This is not fat, and should be skimmed out. The fats that solidify after being cooled are healthy fats from the soup. Some keep it in, I will usually skim most of it off also because there is usually a whole lot. You can keep some of the fat in for nutrients and flavor.

      Reply
  • sarah February 5, 2014, 6:16 am

    My husband shot a buck on the last day of Jan 2014. He took it to amish processor. I asked the amish to save the bones. A week later I recieved the bones. I baked it, then boiled them. I added waterafter some evaprated. There was alot of bones, so I keep cooking and boiling them all day till I did the very last bones. Once done, i peeled off meat as much as I can. Saved them in a crockpot for next day to make venison stew. I put all the cooked boiled bones in the fridge. I was hoping to re-use them again to put them in soups. But my husband is nervous about parasites forming. He said the bones should be tossed. I didnt. I kept in the fridge. How long can bones be in the fridge? Or should they be in the freezer or tossed?

    Reply
    • lauren michelle February 5, 2014, 2:59 pm

      Hi Sarah, that sounds great. Once you boil the bones for one pot of soup you cannot really use them anymore. The nutrients are pretty much used up and the soup flavor won’t be strong enough. I agree with your husband, after one batch just toss them.

      Reply
  • Gayle July 12, 2014, 5:39 pm

    If you cook the bones for up to 48 hours do you keep adding water to keep the pot full or just let it evaporate?

    Reply
    • lauren michelle July 12, 2014, 7:01 pm

      I definitely add water when I see that it’s getting too low. Not too much that it dilutes, but some is needed.

      Reply

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